Florida food blogger Jackie Garvin has a special place in her heart for anything peppermint.
I lived through the era of those aluminum Christmas trees that looked nothing like Christmas trees. The trees had a center pole that was covered in strips of aluminum into which you'd insert these things that were supposed to represent tree limbs. The "limbs" were as straight as a poker, covered in aluminum strips that dangled and had ridiculous looking pom-poms on the end. We even had the color wheel that shone on the aluminum tree making it look even less like a Christmas tree as it changed to every color in the rainbow. My mother loved this tree, however. After it was set up in front of the picture window, she would make us all stand on the sidewalk and look at it. All her ooo-ing and ahh-ing didn't do a thing to convince me it was beautiful. To my eyes, it flat out didn't look like a Christmas tree. And, it was strange looking, to boot.
We'd ride around to look at Christmas lights and she'd always delight each time she saw a similar tree in other people's picture windows. Perhaps she felt validated. I, on the other hand, felt disappointed. Is it too much to ask for a green Christmas tree?
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, we ditched the aluminum tree for a real tree. It not only looked like a Christmas tree, it smelled like one too! This was long before Hallmark's cable channel that shows non-stop Christmas movies, but I could have written a script for them. I was in Heaven! My jubilation was short lived, unfortunately. My mother decided this beautiful, live, green, perfectly-shaped Christmas tree with the perfect evergreen bouquet, would be decorated all in blue.
Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I went from disappointed, to disappointed, and back to disappointed. Suddenly, I'm ecstatic and then BOOM! Disappointed, again.
So, on to the blue decorations: blue lights, blue ornaments, and blue garland. All that blue sufficiently snuffed the life out of the beautiful green Christmas tree. But we weren't done yet.
Back then, silver tinsel was a popular Christmas tree decoration. I suppose it could add some magic and beauty to a tree if carefully draped one by one onto the tree. But that's not how we rolled. We grabbed handfuls of tinsel, stood back, and threw them on the tree. Between the non-Christmasy blue decorations and the abundance of sloppily placed silver tinsel, the beauty of the tree underneath no longer mattered. At that moment, I felt a real kinship with Charlie Brown.
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My mother did bend a little and let us put candy canes on the tree. Real candy canes that were red and white striped, just as candy canes should be. The candy canes brought just enough tradition amidst the sea of contemporary blue ornaments and artificial, poorly applied, silver tinsel to give the tree a Christmas feel. I still love red and white stripes at Christmas. Whether or not that has anything to do with the real candy canes that made our unfortunate tree decorations tolerable, I'll never know.
Of course, peppermints are delicious to eat too, especially when crushed and sprinkled on chocolate. My Peppermint Bark is an easy and elegant Christmas gift and a cinch to make with only four ingredients.
Jackie Garvin is an Alabama born and raised, award-winning author and cook. She is the author of the popular Southern food blog, "Syrup and Biscuits", and two Southern-inspired cookbooks: Biscuits and Sweet Potato Love. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and Basset Hound, both of whom are well fed.